novel by Pittacus Lore, produced by Michael Bay and directed
by accomplished young film-maker, D.J. Caruso, this big budget film
blasted into cinemas with a lot of expectation and hype
that this will be the new franchise in Hollywood.
Alex Pettyfer, is Number Four, one of the Nine from an alien world,
Lorian, who have abandoned their home world and arrived on Earth to
hide from the Mogdolorians who are looking to kill the Nine. As
they hold powers or 'legacies' which combined can create great
power. In a prologue, we see Number Three being murdered, from
there we are hurtled to Florida where Number Four is enjoying the beach
and somersaulting on a jetski. After discovering number three's
death and being labelled a 'freak' by a girl he likes, it is the
decision of his warrior-protector Henri (Timothy Olyphant) to leave
town and put the Mogs off of their scent.
They land in Paradise, Ohio and are met by thunderstorms; at one point
John (his new name) remarks how the town should be called Ironic.
Henri pleads for invisibility but quickly John makes enemies out of the
jerk jock; befriends the conspiracy believer, Sam and gets rose tinted
eyes over an outsider girl who dabbles in photographer, Sarah (Dianna
Agron, head cheerleader Quinn from 'Glee'). But the Mogs are
quickly on his heels; dressed menacingly like angels of death in long
black trenchcoats and painted in tribal tattoos, these are evil so and
so's, and as well as extra-terrestrial weaponary they also have huge
monstrous beasts to also do their bidding.
Caruso has territory with big action scenes, and this is his first
blockbuster following a step up from his last two films.
'Disturbia' a Rear Window for the 21st century with Shia Laboeuf
imprisoned in his own home playing part-time detective was a thriller
with genuine scares, he then did the under-rated and low profile 'Eagle
Eye' which borrowed another Hitchock genre, this time 'North by
Northwest' with Labeouf going cross country to clear his name with the
help of a rampant computer who was his eye in the sky. Whereas,
these were accomplished productions, acted well and shot quickly, on
this occasion there is no opportunity to rip off Hitchcock and instead
bow at the altar of Michael Bay. Bay with his thirst for
destruction on the screen, is afforded that in the climax of the film
with the special effects bonanza in the high school and football field;
grenades, lasers, fireballs and a monster mash in the showers.
Before the monster mash, Caruso does try to establish a sympathy for
the characters working on the dynamic of their relationships, elevating
the romantic elements of the storyline to prominence and letting the
death of a paternal figure have echoes when it does happen, not rushing
into it. The credit for this should fall at the script written by
three talented writers, two of them are Alfred Gough and Miles Millar -
two names you might not recognise, but might be familiar with their
most famous creation 'Smallville', the early years of Superman which
followed Clark Kent at a high school, not too dissimilar to Paradise,
Ohio. Whilst a good television show in its day combining the
quality of 'Dawson's Creek' with the 'X-Files' freak of the week fix;
the show sometimes fell in on itself when it had to rush the climatic
fight with Clark Kent hiding his powers from the ordinary people.
There the constrictions of an hour prime time to fill was the fault,
here though in spite of the near two hour running time, some of the
same problems pop up again. The climax does have a feel of
putting all of its eggs in one basket, is this indicative of cinema at
the moment or can we blame Bay. Everything is given to sell
the mandatory sequel, with lessons learned, a new character named in
Teresa Palmer's brief but explosive cameo, her place in the next film
is assured with her soon to be iconic look in leathers and aviators,
even a good punchline, 'Red Bull is for pussies'.
All in all there is a lot to be excited about - characters that are
engaging, funny dialogue and a lot of action set in the real world
whilst mixing it with other-world mythology, a reluctant hero who is
only just beginning to understand the consequences of his
actions. The film does take a while to get going, but do not let
that put you off, there is something for everyone in this new franchise
about a disenfranchised young man.
Hopefully, the film will garner the greater plaudits and audience it so
richly deserved (but did not attract) on its initial release.
This is harmless action stuff with something for all the family -
romance, action, special effects, aliens, drama with the surrogate
father-son relationship between Four and Henri. The sequel may be
forthcoming, but if it is not, check this out before the film gets
I Am Number Four is released on 20 June on both Blu-ray and DVD, but if
you are an extras junkie, make sure you fork out for the Blu-ray
version which has tons more extras than the DVD equivalent.